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Liver Disease and Obesity Linked to Defective Fat Sensor

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London researchers have discovered that a fault in a protein that functions as a fat sensor may be one cause of obesity and liver disease. The protein GPR120 is normally found in the gut, liver and fat tissue and responds to unsaturated fatty acids, however mice deficient in the protein were more likely to develop obesity and liver disease.

"Being overweight is not always unhealthy if you can make more fat cells to store fat," said Professor Philippe Froguel, of the School of Public Health at Imperial College London. "Some people seem to be unable to do this, and instead they deposit fat around their internal organs, which is very unhealthy. Our study suggests that in both mice and humans, defects in GPR120 combined with a high-fat diet greatly increase the risk of this unhealthy pattern of obesity. We think GPR120 could be a useful target for new drugs to treat obesity and liver diseases." Professor Froguel was lead author in the study which was done by researchers from France and Japan, as well as from the United Kingdom.